The other day Dropbox was harassing me about logging in to an old account before it got deleted. (Rolls eyes). “Let me login to see what I have saved so I don’t lose anything important.” Among a few dozen documents there were also videos and photos, mostly dated from 3-4 years ago.
While scrolling through, I came across a video that I recorded the weekend we moved into our new house a few years ago. The walls were bare. The carpet was freshly cleaned. The wooden blinds were neat and white. The furniture was pushed against the wall. The air (I imagine because this was video) still had the new house smell – uhm yea, that’s a real thing.
Hmmm. I don’t remember the house being that sterile.
After watching the video, I walked around our house and realized how, over time, we’d made all these small changes to turn our house into a home. Wall art here and there. Backsplash. Area rugs. Family photos. TV mounts. Throw pillows. All these little touches and seemingly insignificant weekend projects had added up and we were miles from where we started.
Sometimes progress happens without us realizing.
In that moment I realized three things: 1.) while there’s still more to do, we had ticked off quite a few items from our house-to-home to-do list 2.) I had been blind to our progress because I was only focused on the balance of what needed to be done; and 3.) if we never look back, it’s hard to appreciate how far we’ve come.
Almost immediately I went from feeling like I hadn’t done enough, fast enough to feeling grateful and proud for all that we had done.
It’s Okay to Look Back
We’re constantly being told to not look back. To stay focused on the path ahead. And like many, I’m always full-steam ahead focused on the end result or the next thing. Not uncommon, right?
We’re living in this “more” culture where we’re made to feel like we’re missing out or somehow falling short if we’re not constantly in pursuit. Well I say, BUMP THAT! Or to put it in more constructive terms, I believe that not only is there nothing wrong with looking back but it just may be one of the most important keys to continued progress. Why, you ask? When we take time to reflect on where we started, it allows us to appreciate how far we’ve come...even if it's been baby steps.
Thank Goodness for Unexpected Motivation
The example of decorating our home is a basic one, but the concept of progress is present in most areas of our lives. Think about your personal relationships, your parenting, your career…even your self-growth. Are any of these the same as they were a year or two ago? If they aren't and you haven't paused to appreciate your progress, take some time and do so … even if you still have a ways to go.
We’re all working to get ahead and live our best lives. Sometimes motivation to keep going comes from unexpected sources (thanks, Dropbox email). When I checked my email that day, I thought I was getting a simple reminder to save my files. But what I got was a much more improtant reminder that I hope you'll take too: pause and look back every now and then. Even if it’s just to wave to your starting point and watch it get smaller and smaller in the distance.